1 Shanghai

“It’s bit hard to pick just five things that shaped my life – it could easily be ten, twenty, fifty or even more.

“But the first thing which comes to mind is the city where I was born and grew up. Especially now that I’m away from there, I can see even more clearly how it influenced the way I think. The city contains all [sorts of] conflicts: communist ideology versus traditional local culture; the local culture versus flourishing subcultures; modern but cold tower buildings versus small lanes; and more. Sometimes people seem indifferent to everything but [they are] curious and daring to try any new thing at the same time.

“Maybe this life experience taught me how to make my work acceptable to the creative industry here [in the UK], by having a hint of taste from another culture.”

2 Bicycles

The first time I rode a bike on the street was in 1990; I was 11. Five years later the first tube line started to run in Shanghai.

“In the early 90s most people [in China] were using bicycles as the main tool to commute no matter what their age. I have so much to say about the bicycle – it is not only a vehicle but a character itself.

“That’s how I [found ideas to] design all the bicycle illustrations for The Ride Journal magazine covers.”

3 Anime

“It’s a cliché for an illustrator or designer to be influenced by comics and animation, but I have to talk about anime and manga to talk about my work and me. I wasn’t into animation just when I was kid – I’m still catching the latest episodes of anime TV series every week.

“Of course when I was a kid I watched kid’s anime, and now I watch more grown-up ones in different genres. I enjoy the jokes, action scenes, characters and the unique philosophies.”

4 Literature

“Among all the authors I like, Haruki Murakami’s and Jin Yong’s work influences my visual work the most.

“Murakami is world famous and needs no further introduction. Jin Yong is known within the Chinese-speaking world. All the novels he wrote are neo-wuxia – they concern the adventures of [latter-day] martial artists.

5 Golconda

“René Magritte’s Golconda… a surreal scene composed of real elements, floating, emphasising the relationships among points, lines and planes.

“I can’t remember exactly when and where I first saw this painting. It might have been at the age of 15, when I started to study sketching and acrylic painting in art school and I saw it in one of the classes. This work almost set up all my rules for my later illustration and design work. everynicething.com

Shan Jiang